The Top Mobile Messaging Apps Around the World – 2018 [Map Included]


By Snigdha | October 19, 2018 4:12 pm  | 5-min read

App Builder Appy Pie: Let’s face it, we are all slaves of our instant messaging apps and every time our smartphone goes ‘ding!’ there’s nothing we can do to resist taking a quick look at it, even if we are at office, in a movie theatre (yes, we all do it!), in a meeting, at home, or even when we are at a formal dinner with the Queen of England!

It is addictive, it is fun, it is important, and well it is a great way to stay connected at all times! Now, according to the 2018 report from SimilarWeb studying the popularity of different mobile messaging apps all over the world Like previous years, this year too WhatsApp remains at the top of the list closely followed by Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook Messenger come together to take the crown and reign at the #1 spot in a total of 168 countries (89% of the countries measured)

The Top Apps in the World!

WhatsApp Messenger is the #1 messaging app that takes the top spot in 104 countries (the maximum for any instant messaging app). Though this number has come down since December 2016 when it was 107 and, in the process, has lost some of the lead it had over Facebook Messenger. Facebook Messenger was the top messaging app in 58 countries in December 2016 but this year it has gained a significant number of users and has topped a total of 64 countries! This is quite a massive leap in quite a short while.

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Apart from these chart toppers some other names worth mentioning include Viber Messenger which was the top messaging app in 10 countries, and Line which topped the charts in 3 countries.

There is a new entrant to the list this year – imo free video calls and chat which is the #1 messaging app in 2 Balkan countries – Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan.

The apps to drop out of the last year’s list from SimilarWeb include Skype, Zalo, & BBM.

The Engagement Factor

When it comes to measuring the performance of any messaging app, engagement emerges as one of the key indicators. Talking about WhatsApp Messenger, the messaging app does not just lead in the countries where it is at the top, it virtually dominates the market in all those countries. In 45 of the countries where it is at the top of the list, the app has been downloaded in more than 90% of the devices. In India, this messaging app is wildly popular and is installed in about 95% of the Android apps and 75% of the uses of this messaging app use it on a daily basis. The South African users are comparable to the Indians in their enthusiasm for the app though the install rate there is a little lower at 92%. In the United Kingdom, however, WhatsApp Messenger is installed in 84% of the Android devices and 56% of the users use it daily!

Facebook Messenger, on the other hand enjoys a comparable penetration only in 8 countries and Philippines is at the top with 91% installation rate. In the United States and France, however, the figure is somewhere around 60% and 41% of their users use the app on a daily basis.
To get a holistic picture of the performance or success of a mobile messaging app, penetration can be considered one of the most useful indicators.

The app at the top of the list was installed on more than 80% of the devices in 140 countries that were measured. It was only in 4 countries that the messaging apps at the top of the charts which had less than 50% install rates.

App Install Rates

Facebook Messenger is among the top two in 92% of the countries when it comes to App Install Rates, and WhatsApp Messenger in 76% of the countries.

A total of 131 countries (70% of the world’s countries analyzed) both have WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook Messenger at #1 & #2 spots.

The instant messaging apps have taken over emails in professional as well as the personal realm. One of the reasons why the mobile messaging apps have gained this measure of popularity because of their social networking attributes, enhanced security, and are in a constant competition with the free mobile calling and texting services. This has not only enhanced the instant messaging apps but have led to people taking them up as a preferred medium of communication.

We have talked earlier about the global leaders in the field of mobile messaging apps, here we are going to give you a comprehensive list of the top 9 mobile messaging apps that we have used and enjoyed (or not). The fun thing about these mobile messaging apps is that almost all of them offer to their users, free voice or video calling and even free mobile texting in some cases whether the user is connected to the Wi-Fi or a data plan from their service provider.

#1 WhatsApp

The leader in their arena, WhatsApp is the global leader whether it is about market penetration or about user engagement. This has been established by the information we shared with you earlier on in this post.

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WhatsApp is a wildly popular mobile text messaging app that is designed for smartphone and tablet users enabling them to send text messages and make voice or video calls using internet (Wi-Fi or cellular data networks).

Part of its charm is that the messaging app is really easy to understand and has a ‘no frills’ design in contrast to some of the other messaging apps that can overwhelm the users.

Salient Points
  • Lets you make a Voice or Video Call
  • Lets you have group conversations for up to 250 people
  • Enable with End to End Encryption
  • Lets you exchange files up to 100MB in size
  • Offers an ad free experience
  • Lets you share your location making it possible to view the current & live location without navigating out of the app as the map feature is built into the app
  • Lets you send voice recordings in the form of little voice snippets instead of texting


#2 Facebook Messenger

The instant messaging app that is at the spot #2, Facebook Messenger app which was separated from the social networking app Facebook in 2014.

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Salient Points
  • Lets you use the app on desktop, independent of Facebook
  • Lets you send & request money
  • Lets you play video chat AR games with friends without navigating out of the app
  • Lets you chat with the bots
  • Lets you hold secret conversations that are encrypted
  • Integrates with a bunch of third-party apps letting you share your travel plans with Kayak, or recipes from the Food Network, and more!
  • Lets you make voice & video calls and even send audio recordings instead of plain old boring texting


#3 Viber Messenger

One of the top 3 instant messaging apps Viber, is popular for its ability to work between smartphones, tablets, and computers.

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Salient Points
  • Lets users text and call each other no matter where they are
  • Lets users ‘Like’ & ‘Reply’ to messages in a group conversation
  • Offers built-in stickers & GIFs
  • Lets users send short video messages and audio clips along with text
  • Offers end-to-end encryption
  • Lets you share video, music, and other such things right in the chat window through extensions
  • Lets you send & receive money through the app
  • Lets you add an unlimited number of people in their group conversations or ‘Communities’
  • Lets you make cheaper Non-Viber calls
  • Offers a built-in QR code scanner
  • Lets you share your GPS location
  • Lets you join public chat channels


#4 Line

A unique text messaging and voice calling app that has an element of social entertainment attached to it, thanks to the networking and gaming features in it.

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Salient Features
  • Lets you hold one-on-one or group chats with your friends from anywhere
  • Offers free voice & video calls (domestic or international)
  • Lets you send & receive money
  • Enjoys a massive user base
  • Lets you make group calls that supports 200 people
  • Lets you safely store the content within the app’s Keep feature
  • Offers entertainment & engagement with quirky animated characters & stickers making communication a lot of fun
  • Lets you talk to anyone who doesn’t use the app (for a fee, of course)


#5 WeChat

WeChat is more than just a messaging app, in fact a great blend of messaging, social gaming, and even social media.

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Salient Features
  • WeChat Shake involves just that! Shaking! In the Discover tab, tap the Shake button and shake the phone. This connects you with someone else who might be using WeChat Shake at that moment
  • Lets you maintain a user profile where you post photos or status updates using Moments
  • Lets you make or receive payments through WeChat Pay even letting you pay Dutch with a special feature
  • Offers an integrated gaming platform


#6 Telegram

A cloud-based messaging service, Telegram is great for speedy and secure messaging. The app is accessible from all the devices simultaneously and has some truly unique features.

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Salient Features
  • Lets you edit and delete messages, even after they have been sent
  • Lets you send text messages and make audio calls
  • Offers multiple themes to alter the appearance of the app
  • Offers a good collection of stickers and you can download more
  • Lets you respond to particular messages in a thread
  • Lets you send short voice messages
  • Offers Secret Chat feature which lets you send timed messages that disappear as the time limit expires
  • Lets you send files from the app or website
  • Lets you share your location


#7 Snapchat

The original proponents of the disappearing posts, Snapchat is known for letting you send multimedia messages that self-destruct after the time you set it up for. It is the ephemeral nature of the posts on this platform that not just made the app popular, but also wildly popular (especially among the millennials).

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Salient Features
  • Lets you send photos & short videos
  • Lets you make phone calls & video calls
  • Offers regular text messaging
  • Lets you store private photos
  • Offers entertaining engagement with use of filters, effects, and drawings or illustration
  • Enjoys a massive user base
  • Lets you scan QR codes


#8 Google Hangouts

Coming from Google, Google Hangouts is one of the most underrated messaging apps.

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Salient Features
  • Lets you send text messages, make phone calls & video calls with other Google Hangout users
  • Lets you have private conversation or group chats involving up to 150 participants
  • Lets you share anything from video, photo, sticker, to emoji
  • Offers voice & video calls that support up to 10 users
  • Lets you integrate it with your Google account
  • Lets Google Voice users can send texts to non-Hangouts users
  • Lets you share your location with others from within the app
  • Lets you suppress all notifications for any conversation
  • Lets you organize the conversations by allowing you to favorite a conversation for easy access and archive messages to declutter the conversation view.


#9 Voxer

Voxer is known by more than one name like walkie talkie or push to talk app as it delivers voice messages live! The recipient, whether it is an individual or a group can listen to the message immediately or later at a convenient time. The message would be instantly played in the recipient’s phone speakers (provided the phone is on and the app is running) or would be stored as a recorded message like voicemail.

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Salient Features
  • Offers quick & easy voice messaging
  • Lets you share files from Dropbox
  • Offers built-in GIFs (through GIPHY)
  • Lets you post status updates on your profile
  • Lets you share your current location or check-in to a nearby location from within the chat window
  • Lets you make notes to yourself, star and share messages
  • Offers something that they call Extreme Notifications that sends repeated alerts & louder sounds
  • There is a premium version available that offers features like unlimited message storage, admin-controlled chats, message recall, Extreme Notifications, Chat Broadcasting, hands-free walkie talkie mode, and many others.

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About The Author
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The Content Manager at Appy Pie, Snigdha has had a passion for writing since she can remember and feels lucky for making it her career. With a total experience of 11 years, she has dedicated the last 6 years to hard-core content writing and management. She actively writes about all things related to Social Media & more. In her spare time, she would either love to read curled up on the couch or take a bag of necessities (including a good book) and drive off into the sunset.

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